You know sometimes you come home from a trip and see a package waiting for you near the door? Well, when students return from summer break there will be G-d willing a new arrival here, waiting for you when you come. According to the tracking it’s scheduled to arrive approximately at the end of July, but we will post notification of delivery once it gets here, including package weight, specs and all. Our families don’t know the gender until arrival, so we will keep you posted, may it be in a good time, happy and healthy!
On that note, want to express a major appreciation for Raizy working full strength despite her already beginning now in the 7th month. Many women cut back and relax more, and Raizy should too, but she has been doing Shabbos House 110% including Friday Nights, Shabbos Lunches, the regional Shabbaton, all the meals of Passover, Bagel Brunches, Torah-Tuesdays and everything in between. We simply can’t thank her enough.
This announcement that we are sharing may be obvious to some, but we did want to share it, because you are all extended family for us, and we didn’t want to surprise you with this after the fact once you get back in the Fall. Sometimes the obvious isn’t obvious to all, and even when it is, sometimes the obvious needs to be stated anyways.
In the early 2000’s, around Graduation-time, there was a small crowd at Shabbos House, and people were sharing what they learned most from the Shabbos House experience. One student said it was his appreciation of Shabbos, another said it was her observance of the holidays, different people said different things. One girl said, “Before I came here, I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to have children. But now I know that I do. I want to have children and look forward to it.”
On this topic, I’d like to share two stories, which may be obvious to some, but are worth repeating:
We were helping a couple prepare for marriage, a very sweet couple, loving and mature, both very fine folks. But the husband-to-be came from a divorced family, and the situation was such that it weighed heavily on him, and while he loved his fiance, he had this nagging worry that it maybe won’t work out. He asked me about religious Halachic permission to use birth control to delay children for a couple of years, so they could be certain that the marriage was healthy. Now, birth control is allowed when necessary, the parameters of which vary according to communities of Jewish Orthodox practice, but there’s somewhat less flexibility (again depends on community and observance level) before the birth of the first child (all this is a topic for another time). So I contacted a well-respected and very learned Modern Orthodox Rabbi, highly regarded on a national level, and told him of this young man’s concern. The Rabbi emailed me back, that while yes, there may be grounds for some delay before having children, I should sit down with the couple and gently explain to them the great blessing that children are, and that this blessing should never be taken for granted, and what joy children bring to life, and that one never knows the window of one’s child-bearing potential and one should be careful before delaying it too long, and on and on, hoping that while this couple might wait a little while, they should not wait too long… the Rabbi wrote me this email with such passion and sensitivity and understanding. I was quite surprised, especially knowing that this Rabbi is an academic, an intellectual, I didn’t expect this from him. I spoke about this response with a colleague, who told me that this Rabbi and his wife were not blessed with children of their own. (yes, the couple did wait a bit, but not too long, and they had their first and soon after their second as well – and they are indeed very happy, a wonderful couple, BH!).
The second story dates back to the early 1970’s when Rabbi Gourarie was the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Shliach to Buffalo and had much success with the students there. It was the afterglow of the 1960’s and students were seeking meaning and spirituality and at Buffalo in particular, there was tremendous life-changing spiritual growth. In many major Jewish communities today, a disproportianate number of Baalei-Teshuvah from that era hail back to Buffalo. So, when Rabbi Gourarie went to see the Rebbe after the first year or two, he shared with the Rebbe some of the glowing success and excitement of what was happening Jewishly at the Chabad House at Buffalo State. The Rebbe listened, and encouraged him, but then said: “Remember that the innermost essential point is to have Nachas from your own children.” Now this is from the Rebbe, who encouraged Chassidim to move our to the furthest places, where it wouldn’t be easy to raise a Chabad family, places far from Kosher, places with few friends for their kids, places without Jewish schooling. And the Rebbe’s goal and vision was about reaching and touching as many Jewish souls as possible, despite whatever personal hardship and sacrifice. Yet, the Rebbe still told him, family is key, don’t neglect your family, be there for your family, family is paramount. Too many times, people put their careers and ambitions (even selfless noble ones like Rabbi Gouraries’) before family. Children are paramount!
Obviously, much of this message is not relevant to you right now. I am not asking anyone to have kids while they are in college. But hopefully, with G-d’s help, and with the right person, in the right time, may this message be profoundly and deeply relevant to each and every one of us, in good health, much happiness and with all the resources necessary.